Back in May a boat rep told me he’d heard through the grapevine that Seven Marine was on the verge of bankruptcy, which didn’t seem likely to me, but then, you never know. Fast forward a few weeks and the news broke that Volvo Penta had acquired a controlling interest in the boutique outboard builder, and I was flabbergasted. Didn’t see that coming at all.
What does Volvo want with an interest in Seven? Hard to say. Both companies are GM engine buyers, but it’s difficult to imagine much market for a Seven-style outboard with less horsepower than the “base” Seven 557. It would be too expensive. More power? Seven President Rick Davis told me last year he thought, based on conversations with some of his performance-component suppliers, there was another bump in power available beyond the current 627 model that would deliver everyday reliability. But we are still talking about a handful of outboards.
How about a Volvo diesel powerhead on a Seven midsection for sale in Europe? Maybe. Seven Marine could also use a broader base for service support and more of its motors reaching the water. Eventually, Brian and Eric Davis won’t be able to stay on a first-name basis with each of their customers.
I’ve known Rick Davis for a long time. I think one reason that he left Mercury was because he had ideas that just didn’t fit that mass-produced model. Some of them appeared in the Seven outboards. I’m betting there are many more, and now he’s got a new partner.
“This has been in the works for some time,” Rick Davis said. “I think Volvo Penta will be a great partner. It has the right approach to working with a smaller company like Seven and will keep us growing so we can take the scale of this business to the next level.”
This might get interesting.